Lighthouse on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Best place to live in every state

Written by:
April 27, 2023
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Best place to live in every state

What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks? According to March 2024 data on domestic migration patterns from the U.S. Census Bureau, an increasing number of U.S. counties—62%—saw population growth in 2023. Americans are opting to move for a variety of reasons, from changes in marital status to dynamic housing and employment opportunities.

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche's 2023 rankings. Niche ranks places to live based on many factors, including the cost of living, educational attainment, housing, and public schools.

Many cities on the list are suburbs experiencing growth thanks to rapid improvements in their metropolitan areas, whether it's the creation of new rail systems or a megacorporation moving in. Other entries include planned communities or older cities that have been revamped with grassroots efforts focusing on greener ways of living, drawing in new businesses, or increased devotion to the arts. Towns with large colleges regularly appear, as prestigious universities employ thousands of workers and provide diverse recreational and educational options for families.

Whether you're thinking of relocation or are big on hometown pride, click through to find the best place to live in every state.

Alabama: Madison

- Population: 55,551
- Location: Suburb of Huntsville, AL
- National rank: 206

Madison in 2020 officially completed Toyota Field, the home stadium for a new minor league baseball team with arguably one of the most eccentric names in sports: the Trash Pandas. Madison also has top-ranked schools, borders the city of Huntsville, and offers several small business incentives.

Alaska: College

- Population: 11,797
- National rank: Not Ranked

This small suburb of Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an international research center that also houses the Museum of the North. College's proximity to Fairbanks puts it near a number of cultural amenities like Pioneer Park, commemorating Alaskan history.

Arizona: Catalina Foothills

- Population: 50,096
- Location: Suburb of Tucson, AZ
- National rank: 249

The affluent town of Catalina Foothills is less than 10 minutes from Tucson and surrounded by the picturesque Santa Catalina mountains. The town has easy access to the luxury outdoor shopping center La Encantada, resorts, and museums. Nearby, the University of Arizona has a notable presence, including its operation of Biosphere2.

Arkansas: Bentonville

- Population: 52,565
- National rank: 419

Bentonville is the home of the first Walmart and now serves as home to the corporate headquarters, as well as the Walmart Museum. Bentonville also houses the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and is close to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

California: Albany

- Population: 19,958
- Location: Suburb of Oakland, CA
- National rank: 156

Albany, California is a suburb of Oakland and a part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Despite its central location in a bustling area of the state, Albany's mission is to maintain its small-town ambiance. Its main street, Solano Avenue, hosts an annual event known as the Solano Stroll, where locals and tourists alike can sample dozens of local businesses.

Colorado: Holly Hills

- Population: 2,843
- Location: Suburb of Denver, CO
- National rank: 35

The quiet Denver suburb of Holly Hills affords its residents modest home prices, good schools, and a small neighborhood vibe just 15 minutes from downtown Denver. This kind of proximity gives the people living here access to as much or as little hubbub as they like, with cultural events, outdoor activities, restaurants, and educational centers galore.

Connecticut: West Hartford

- Population: 64,034
- National rank: 284

Aficionados of fall foliage can find some of nature's best colors along the shores of the West Hartford Reservoirs. Even outside of the fall months, this city is becoming a favorite place to live because of its farmers' markets, museums, and history. The University of Hartford and the University of Saint Joseph both have campuses in town.

Delaware: Pike Creek

- Population: 7,398
- National rank: 305

Pike Creek offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is near White Clay Creek State Park, which features more than 3,600 acres of hiking trails, creeks, and forest, and Carousel Park, which has ponds, a lake, and miles of walking trails.

Florida: Westchase

- Population: 24,185
- Location: Suburb of Tampa, FL
- National rank: 298

Situated just outside of Tampa, Westchase provides residents easy access to city amenities and the beautiful beaches of St. Petersburg and Clearwater. This master-planned community includes plenty for locals to do, including two parks, a public golf club, and swim and tennis centers.

Georgia: Alpharetta

- Population: 65,187
- Location: Town in Georgia
- National rank: 99

About 30 miles north of Atlanta, Alpharetta offers southern charm and outdoor activities alike. Spend the day in Avalon, the city's hub for food, shopping, and entertainment, or venture out to Big Creek Greenway for more than 9 miles of trail and viewing of local wildlife.

Hawaii: Maunawili

- Population: 2,071
- Location: Suburb of Honolulu, HI
- National rank: Not Ranked

Situated on the island of Oahu just a few miles from the capital of Honolulu, Maunawili is packed with the stunning vistas and outdoor adventures that the island is famous for. While the famous Maunawili Falls trail is currently closed, hikers can still take advantage of Maunawili Trail.

Idaho: Moscow

- Population: 25,336
- National rank: Not Ranked

Sharing a border with Washington state, Moscow began attracting settlers around 1871 for its lush grasslands and large amount of timber. The town is home to a weekend farmers' market, the University of Idaho, and the paved Latah Trail connecting Moscow and Troy for joggers and cyclists.

Illinois: Bannockburn

- Population: 1,315
- Location: Suburb of Chicago, IL
- National rank: 98

The village of Bannockburn is known for its safety and quality education, but the town also has plenty for families to do. The community hosts a series of free events for residents every year, from wine and cheese tasting to a Halloween haunted trail.

Indiana: Carmel

- Population: 98,137
- Location: Town in Indiana
- National rank: 40

Located just outside Indianapolis, Carmel is known for its safe neighborhoods and an annual Christmas market. The Japanese Style Garden is a favored attraction among locals.

Iowa: University Heights

- Population: 1,381
- Location: Suburb of Cedar Rapids, IA
- National rank: 480

University Heights is situated just outside of the University of Iowa campus. It's close to Kinnick Stadium, making it easy for locals to catch a Hawkeyes game while enjoying the venue's new renovations, including upgraded concessions and new video boards.

Kansas: Leawood

- Population: 33,748
- National rank: 399

Leawood is one of the safest cities to live in around Kansas City. The city is dedicated to maintaining its landscape and aesthetic through both a local garden club and an arts council, who maintain the area's attractions and host community events throughout the year.

Kentucky: Northfield

- Population: 1,181
- Location: Suburb of Louisville, KY
- National rank: 597

The city of Northfield is located just off the Ohio River, and boasts a beautiful natural landscape. To preserve its tree canopy and fight the effects of environmental change, the city instituted a program to plant mature trees in residential areas.

Louisiana: Elmwood

- Population: 6,700
- Location: Suburb of New Orleans, LA
- National rank: Not Ranked

Elmwood is a suburb of New Orleans and offers just as much bustling culture as the Big Easy. Enjoy local cajun eateries or pop over to NOLA for live music, parks, and museums.

Maine: Cape Elizabeth

- Population: 9,448
- National rank: 686

Cape Elizabeth is a suburb of the cool cultural hub of Portland. Located on Casco Bay, the affluent Maine town is known for the iconic Portland Head Light and Crescent Beach State Park.

Maryland: North Bethesda

- Population: 50,695
- National rank: 16

North Bethesda might only cover nine square miles, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in amenities. For instance, you can visit Josiah Henson Museum and Park to learn about the abolitionist who inspired the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Massachusetts: Brookline

- Population: 62,620
- Location: Suburb of Boston, MA
- National rank: 12

John F. Kennedy spent his childhood in Brookline, and the area oozes history—like the fact that the Underground Railroad made important stops in Brookline that you can still visit. Today, community gardens and farmers markets' are just some of the amenities that make this Boston suburb a favored locale to raise a family.

Michigan: Okemos

- Population: 25,179
- Location: Suburb of Lansing, MI
- National rank: 29

Okemos, next to Michigan State University, has an abundance of youth sports activities, making the town an attractive place to raise a family. The Meridian Historical Village is another point of pride in the town. Comedian Seth Meyers attended elementary school in Okemos.

Minnesota: Lauderdale

- Population: 2,479
- Location: Suburb of Minneapolis, MN
- National rank: 297

Lauderdale is located just outside of Minneapolis and close to the University of Minnesota. The nearby Bell Museum on the university campus includes a touch and see lab with fossils that are more than 10,000 years old, and an astronomy observation deck.

Mississippi: Madison

- Population: 27,459
- Location: Suburb of Jackson, MS
- National rank: 176

Simmons Arboretum, Liberty Park, and Strawberry Patch Park are popular recreation sites in Madison. Although there are no college campuses, Jackson State University offers satellite courses in town.

Missouri: Clayton

- Population: 16,905
- Location: Suburb of St. Louis, MO
- National rank: 60

Despite its modest size of two and a half square miles, Clayton manages to pack in plenty of attractions. The city is home to 11 parks, including Hanley Park, which is home to the oldest structure in the city—the Historic Hanley House.

Montana: Bozeman

- Population: 51,574
- National rank: Not Ranked

Bozeman is home to Montana State University, which has more than 16,000 enrolled students. The city is surrounded by mountain ranges and offers attractions like the Museum of the Rockies. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the largest airport in Montana.

Nebraska: Papillion

- Population: 23,875
- Location: Suburb of Omaha, NE
- National rank: Not Ranked

Papillion is located about 25 miles outside of Omaha, and is best known for its bevy of recreational spaces. The Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area, for one, is a 450-acre park where locals and tourists can fish, hike, or camp.

Nevada: Mogul

- Population: 1,421
- Location: Suburb of Reno, NV
- National rank: Not Ranked

City- and nature-lovers alike will enjoy Mogul, situated just west of bustling Reno and less than an hour from the beautiful Lake Tahoe. Whether you prefer hitting the casinos or taking in stunning vistas, Mogul has something for you.

New Hampshire: Hanover

- Population: 11,612
- National rank: 326

Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, one of the oldest and finest colleges in the country. The artsy college town has museums and cultural spots like the Hood Museum of Art and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts. There is also ample opportunity for outdoor activity in this rural area, with the White Mountains to the east and the Green Mountains to the west.

New Jersey: Princeton Junction

- Population: 2,208
- National rank: 14

Princeton Junction might be located near Princeton University, but it still offers a small-town feel. You can hop over to the Princeton University Art Museum for the day or enjoy a peaceful walk at the Ronald Rogers Arboretum.

New Mexico: Los Alamos

- Population: 13,270
- National rank: 41

Los Alamos is steeped in Native American history. Today, it's an outdoor-focused city with parks and public spaces, a bustling downtown, and its position as the "gateway" to three national parks and the Santa Fe National Forest. Bandelier National Monument gives a glimpse into the area's ancient past: Visitors can climb wooden ladders to explore ancient cave dwellings where the region's earliest inhabitants used to live.

New York: Great Neck Gardens

- Population: 1,258
- Location: Suburb of New York City, NY
- National rank: 10

Thanks to its location on Long Island, Great Neck Gardens is an easy commute to New York City. But the town offers a much more relaxed pace than the Big Apple, while still boasting great places to visit like Steppingstone Park, which overlooks Long Island Sound.

North Carolina: Cary

- Population: 171,603
- Location: Suburb of Raleigh, NC
- National rank: 77

Every year, Cary hosts Spring Daze, an arts and crafts festival welcoming more than 150 local artists in Bond Park. The town is also known for being bike-friendly, thanks to a network of more than 200 miles of greenways and on-road bike paths.

North Dakota: West Fargo

- Population: 37,913
- Location: Suburb of Fargo, ND
- National rank: Not Ranked

West Fargo is one of the fastest growing cities in North Dakota. To ensure the town remains a great place to live as it grows, the city has invested in a Neighborhood Revitalization Program to support local homeowners with loans for home improvement projects.

Ohio: Shaker Heights

- Population: 29,197
- Location: Suburb of Cleveland, OH
- National rank: 68

Shaker Heights is best-known for being one of the first planned communities in the United States, as well as its commitment to integration as the city grew. You might recognize the town from the popular novel and limited series "Little Fires Everywhere."

Oklahoma: Edmond

- Population: 93,522
- Location: Suburb of Oklahoma City, OK
- National rank: Not Ranked

Just minutes from Oklahoma City, Edmond boasts the University of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma University Medical Center among its higher-education institutions. Edmond has produced many star athletes, such as Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, and Kansas basketball coach Bill Self.

Oregon: Bethany

- Population: 29,277
- Location: Suburb of Portland, OR
- National rank: 901

Bethany, not too far from Portland, is one of the wealthiest small towns in the state. Bethany is also close to Beaverton, which is home to Nike and Oregon's Silicon Forest, one of the fastest-growing tech areas in the Pacific Northwest.

Pennsylvania: Chesterbrook

- Population: 5,457
- Location: Suburb of Philadelphia, PA
- National rank: 1

Chesterbrook, a suburb of Philadelphia, is just south of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The town boasts a small population, highly rated schools, family-friendly atmosphere, and a diverse population.

Rhode Island: Barrington

- Population: 17,201
- Location: Suburb of Providence, RI
- National rank: 780

Barrington's history dates back to the early 17th century when the first Pilgrims arrived in New England. Today, the town has great schools, the Osamequin Nature Trails and Bird Sanctuary, and gorgeous ocean views—nearly half of the town's area is water.

South Carolina: Tega Cay

- Population: 12,336
- National rank: 481

Tega Cay is a suburb of Charlotte, located right on the border between North and South Carolina. Its waterside location on Lake Wylie makes it a great choice for aquatic activities, but the city also offers plenty of parks and walking trails on land.

South Dakota: Brandon

- Population: 10,745
- National rank: Not Ranked

Situated just east of Sioux Falls, Brandon offers easy access to Big Sioux Recreation Area, a state park where visitors can enjoy everything from canoeing to birdwatching. The park also hosts regular events, including a bike parade for the Fourth of July and a trick or treat trail for Halloween.

Tennessee: Brentwood

- Population: 44,354
- Location: Suburb of Nashville, TN
- National rank: 697

Brentwood is rich in parks and wildlife, with the Deerwood Arboretum and Nature Area among the local highlights. Brentwood's high schools are among the highest-ranked in the state. With Brentwood's proximity to Nashville, a variety of professional athletes and country music stars live in this suburb, including Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift.

Texas: Cinco Ranch

- Population: 18,399
- Location: Suburb of Houston, TX
- National rank: 37

Planned communities around major Texas cities like Dallas and Houston are common; and, like many of them, Cinco Ranch has an abundance of pools, tennis courts, and golf courses. This Houston outpost has something more, though: It has also created an amateur radio society.

Utah: River Heights

- Population: 2,156
- National rank: Not Ranked

Situated in Utah's Cache Valley, River Heights has no shortage of beautiful scenery. Logan Peak is just a few miles from the town and a popular destination for hiking and mountain biking.

Vermont: South Burlington

- Population: 20,042
- National rank: 879

From easy access to Lake Champlain or the Higher Ground music venue, South Burlington offers recreation for all kinds of people. The town is also home to Vermont's largest enclosed shopping mall—University Mall—making it a great destination for shoppers.

Virginia: Innsbrook

- Population: 8,966
- Location: Suburb of Richmond, VA
- National rank: 38

Just outside of the capital of Richmond, Innsbrook is a town best known for its mixed-use office and living spaces. Combining headquarters for startups and larger companies with plenty of retail and dining, the community aims to make it easier to live and work in one cohesive area.

Washington: Yarrow Point

- Population: 1,365
- Location: Suburb of Seattle, WA
- National rank: 268

Located between Kirkland and Bellevue, Yarrow Point is a stunning suburb of Seattle on Lake Washington. Not only does the town have easy access to Seattle's many parks, music venues, and highly-rated restaurants, but it's home to Morningside Park and the Yarrow Bay Wetlands—a habitat for natural wildlife.

West Virginia: Star City

- Population: 2,012
- National rank: 783

Founded in the early 20th century, Star City is a small town overlooking the Monongahela River. Today, the city boasts the Edith Barill Riverfront Park, which has biking and walking trails and a public boat ramp providing easy access to the river. The Caperton Trail follows the river to Morgantown and passes the West Virginia University Arboretum.

Wisconsin: Kohler

- Population: 2,072
- National rank: 234

Home to Destination Kohler, a five-star resort that has hosted six major golf championships and the Ryder Cup, Kohler also offers plenty of activities for its locals. For instance, visit the Bookworm Gardens, a botanical garden that hosts events based on popular children's books.

Wyoming: Laramie

- Population: 31,501
- National rank: Not Ranked

Laramie is home to the University of Wyoming, but it's far more than a college town. Visit the University of Laramie Art Museum or take a drive up to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. The Snowy Range Mountains are just east of Medicine Bow National Forest, where outdoor enthusiasts can camp, hike, or spot local wildlife.

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